NEW YORK (Reuters) - The dollar tumbled on Friday after a significantly weaker-than-expected U.S. jobs report that will increase speculation over whether the U.S. Federal Reserve holds off tightening monetary policy for longer than expected.
U.S. employers added the fewest jobs in more than a year in March amid signs the economy has been hurt by the dollar’s climb to multi-year highs.
Non-farm payrolls rose by 126,000 last month, the smallest gain since December 2013, and well under the 245,000 economists had forecast. The unemployment rate held at a 6-1/2 year low of 5.5 percent.
“This (data) might put back your expectations for a Fed hike of 25 basis points to later in the year rather than June. It moves us toward September,” said Daniel Morris, global investment strategist at TIAA-CREF in New York.
The euro shot up over 1 percent after the report to a one week high of $1.10270 before drifting to $1.09750, a gain of 0.88 percent on the EBS trading platform.
Trading volumes were very thin owing to the Easter holiday weekend that has much of Europe closed and skeletal staffing at U.S. banks. U.S. stock markets are closed.
“I‘m not pushing the panic button yet. It is still a Q1 number. I don’t think the Fed will either. We’re not getting a clean read on the economy yet. We had a bad winter for most of the Northeast and any clean read for the economy will come in the next couple of months,” said Win Thin, currency strategist at Brown Brothers Harriman in New York.
The dollar fell against its major trading partners’ currencies. The dollar index traded down 0.71 percent to 96.736.
Against the Japanese yen, the dollar hit a one-week low of 118.71 yen before settling around 119, off 0.58 percent on the day. The greenback dropped to five-week nadir of 0.94860 Swiss franc.
”Slightly weaker U.S. growth means the dollar is not as strong, but on the other hand the ECB is printing a lot of money and that will matter more eventually. This is a small deviation on the path toward reaching parity. Our forecast for 2015 is $1.05, and for 2016 it is $0.90,” said Morris.
In a holiday-shortened bond trading session, the 10-year benchmark U.S. Treasury yield fell to a near two-month low of 1.802 percent. Trading closed with the yield at 1.84 percent..
Reporting By Daniel Bases; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Dan Grebler and Bernard Orr